WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. â€“ The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service at 3200 Summit Blvd. in West Palm Beach for eight alleged safety violations following a November 2010 inspection. Proposed penalties total $164,200.
Six repeat violations with penalties totaling $155,200 include failing to appropriately mark aisles on the loading dock where forklifts were operating; exposing employees to being struck by the forklifts; allowing employees on the loading dock to operate a dumper at the edge of the dock without fall protection; exposing them to a fall of 50 inches; blocking aisles with mail cages; preventing employees from quickly evacuating in case of a fire; exposing workers to fall and electrical hazards by requiring them to climb a ladder and reach over with a wooden pole in order to use disconnect switches for battery chargers; incorrectly labeling containers used to store waste oil and solvents in the battery and oil waste room; and failing to perform monthly inspections with certification records of the hoist chain on the overhead crane that moved batteries weighing up to 3,000 pounds. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.
Two serious violations with proposed penalties of $9,000 include requiring forklifts to turn and travel in areas on the loading dock that were not kept clear of mail carts, thus exposing workers to being struck by the forklifts, and obstructing the exit route near the loading dock with boxes and equipment, decreasing the capacity of the exit route in case of evacuation. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Blocking aisles and placing workers in hazardous situations where they may be struck by a forklift are dangers that should have been identified and corrected by management without waiting for an OSHA inspection," said Cindy Coe, OSHA’s regional administrator in Atlanta. "The Postal Service has been cited by OSHA at other locations for these same violations, and we will not tolerate this type of disregard for employees’ safety and health."
The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of the latest citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office, telephone 954-424-0242. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.